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American Aberdeen - The Original Angus Cattle

written by

Lynn Watkins

posted on

October 7, 2021

Aberdeen Cattle

A history, their traits, and benefits to modern cattle producers

Aberdeen cattle are an Australian breed (Australian Lowline) that are known for their high quality beef, docile nature, and high feed efficiency. We here at Mesquite Country Beef have a sizable herd of Fullblood Aberdeen cattle and a larger herd of Aberdeen Moderator cattle. Their beneficial traits allow us to produce high quality beef on grass at a sustainable level and have a beneficial impact on our pastures. They are amazing little cattle.

Fullblood Aberdeen Cow

A History of Aberdeen Cattle

In 1979 the Trangie Research Station in New South Wales, Australia began a research project to study the production efficiency of cattle based on frame size (the skeletal size). They started the project with a herd 85 Aberdeen Angus cattle that were purchased from a carefully managed closed herd since their purchase from a Scottish herd in 1929. These animals would be sorted into three herds: Highline, Lowline, and control. The Highline herd was bred and selectively chosen for fast growth and large frame, the Lowline herd was chosen for more moderated growth and smaller frame, and the control herd was randomly chosen. The result was a valuable herd of cattle with small stature, high feed efficiency, docile nature, and completely free from genetic defects. In 1993, the research study was ended and the Lowline herd was due to be harvested, but at the insistence of a few interested individuals the herd was instead sold and the Australian Lowline breed was created.

In 1997, Australian Lowlines were imported to the United States and have since gained traction as an valuable addition to the American beef industry. In 2017 the Australian Lowline was rebranded in the United States as Aberdeens in an effort to gain a larger market share in the commercial beef industry. The American Aberdeen Association maintains three different types of recognized registerable Aberdeen cattle. Fullblood Aberdeens are 100% pure Aberdeens and have to be DNA Parent Verified to both the sire and dam in order to be registered. This has been the standard since the herd was dispersed from Trangie in 1993, making the Fullblood Aberdeen the most verifiably pure Scottish Aberdeen Angus genetics in the United States. Moderators are crossbred animals with at least one parent who is not Fullblood Aberdeen. Aberdeen Plus are crossbred animals with a Fullblood parent and an American Angus parent.

Traits of Aberdeen Cattle

Aberdeen cattle are black hided, naturally hornless, and short in stature, typically measuring between 42 to 48 inches in height at the hip. Fullblood cows average around 1000 lbs and bulls around 1450 lbs. This is 30% smaller than the average cow size in the United States. This short stature allows for an increase in the feed efficiency of the animals, this means that in order to maintain her body weight and grow a calf the Aberdeen cow requires less food. A producer can then stock more animals on the same amount of pasture. This makes for a more economical herd and higher level of sustainability. Aberdeens also offer many other traits besides their higher efficiency. These cattle have the high quality meat of the Scottish Aberdeen Angus. Their beef flavor is strongly beefy without becoming overwhelmingly rich, but where they shine is in the tender bite of the beef. The breed is also very docile in nature and make excellent mothers. In addition, the Aberdeen breed is free of any genetic defects, including dwarfism.

Benefits to Modern Cattle Producers

Crossbreeding of Aberdeen cattle with other breeds is encouraged by the American Aberdeen Association and is one of the most beneficial uses of Aberdeen cattle. Breeding Aberdeen bulls with heifers of other breeds completely eliminates calving issues. Using Aberdeen Plus and Moderator bulls on established cow herds has the same result of eliminating calving problems as well as calves grow to market weight quicker because of the increased feed efficiency passed on by the sire. A herd of Aberdeen Plus or Moderator cows stock more head per acre than larger animals, and many of these cows grow calves up to half of their own body weight in 5 to 6 months. This allows a cattle producer to grow more beef per acre with lower impacts. Making for a more sustainable and more profitable herd.

Moderator Heifer Calf born January 2021 - Aberdeen x Texas Longhorn x Santa Gertrudis

Mesquite Country Beef

We purchased our first Aberdeen cattle in 2006. Prior to that we had a herd of Santa Gertrudis and Texas Longhorn cattle. We have since crossed Aberdeen cattle with both Santa Gertrudis and Texas Longhorn cattle to produce a large Moderator herd that is adaptable to our tough Texas conditions as well as produces high quality meat on pasture. The majority of our beef comes from this herd, but we also maintain a moderate size herd of Fullblood Aberdeen cattle. This is where we produce our special line of Heritage Angus Beef. We couldn't be happier with our herd of cattle. They may be smaller than most other cows but they are mighty. Our cows routinely grow calves to 50 - 60% of their own body weight and the beef quality is excellent. Our herd is healthy, sustainable, and profitable because of our infusion of Aberdeen cattle into it.




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